Friday, June 28, 2013
Keeping your green dog happy, healthy and safe during the 4th of July weekend!
The 4th of July can be a really fun family time for you and your dogs. But as many of my friends share with me, they really dread this holiday because of all the fireworks (and even thunderstorms) that can stress and frighten their dogs.
More dogs get lost and run away on the 4th of July weekend than any other holiday of the year. So it's really important to keep your dog as happy, healthy and safe as possible.
Working with your dog during stressful fireworks and thunderstorms.
When I first came to live with my Mum, I was only 12 weeks old. But the first sign of thunderstorms and fireworks, Mum got out the treats and worked to help me stay calm, focused, playing and engaging with her as all the noise from thunderstorms and fireworks were going on outside.
For those of you who have thunder and firework-phobic dogs, try playing with them during stressful times, utilize clicker training which helps your dog really focus on the task at hand. Keep your voice calm and reassuring, and have a play session with your dog.
If your dog is already very afraid during these times, it's best not to coddle your dog as it can reinforce the behavior of being afraid. But we believe it's ok to be somewhat close to your dog, remaining calm, providing reassuring talk that can help some dogs overcome their fears.
Keeping your dog safe.
One of the most important things Mum has always done, is if I have to go outside to do my business during fireworks weekends, she puts me on leash even in our fenced in yard. You never know when a neighbor will set off a stray firework that could really spook me. We've had friends whose dogs have jumped or break down six foot fences when spooked and get needlessly lost. The same advice also applies to when thunderstorms may be in the area.
And please, please, please, be sure your dog is wearing their id tags inside and outside during stressful times. We've even heard of dogs breaking through windows and getting needlessly lost during the 4th of July weekend.
And if you're thinking of taking your dog to that local 4th of July parade, concert, picnic, community activity or family outing; think carefully! Many time parades include very loud fire and police sirens that go off that can really scare a dog. Local community activities aren't suited for some dogs with all the people, children, flags waving and more. If you suspect that activities may be too stressful for your dog, leave them at home in a safe place and schedule fun play time with them when you return.
Keep your dog safe at all times!
Natural, healthy products that help dogs with their fears.
Desensitization training - Many of our friends have had great success with a variety of products on the market designed to help dogs be calmer and deal with stress more effectively by utilizing recordings of fireworks and thunderstorms. We recommend finding a safe place and starting your training with the volume very low, rewarding for calm behavior and then increasing the volume just a little over time. You may have to provide several sessions over many days and weeks to help your dog become desensitized to these loud noises.
Calm Coats, Thundershirts and Anxiety Wraps - These products are basically clothing for dogs that are snug to their body providing a comforting hug that actually works very well for many dogs in stressful situations.
Calming Sprays - There are a variety of calming products on the market for dogs now, thankfully!
One of our favorites is from our Raise A Green Dog Partner, Earth Heart, Inc. Their Canine Calm has received a lot of positive reviews from a wide variety of dog lovers in helping their dogs cope with the busyness of holiday weekends, the loud bangs of fireworks and even during thunderstorms.
Other products include Organic Herbal Remedy: Calm Down from Earth Animal, Rescue Remedy which you can also purchase through Earth Animal, and Homeopet Anxiety and Separation Remedy through TheDogmaOnline.
When you've tried everything to help your dog be calm, we highly recommend you consult a professional, including a great trainer. We like trainers that have studied under Karen Pryor; and/or a good holistic veterinarian (you can search for one here).
Here's to a happy, healthy, calm and fun 4th of July!!! We hope you have an amazing holiday weekend!
Photo credits: FastLizard4 and Randy Son of Robert on Flickr